I never really understood the desire to see the world through rose-colored glasses. I don’t mean the literal invention of spectacles that allowed for people with certain conditions to see words on a page correctly–of course that is brilliant, akin to a miracle even. What I mean is the connotation it’s taken on that by seeing the word through a mediated lens, it somehow looks better. Well, yeah, it probably is aesthetically more pleasing to the eye. It is just like when we use different lenses on our cameras or apps on our IPhones that filter out our imperfections and enhance the beauty of the image. I’m guilty of this photo editing; I do it ALL the time. I am an Instagram junkie, in fact. But I’ve realized that if I don’t take time to appreciate and contemplate the original, I’m essentially a hypocrite. Then again, maybe I’m just a girl who likes words and pretty things. Must I make everything so complicated? Yep. (Damn it!)
I think instead of the rose-colored glasses metaphor, what I’m really taking about here is more like smudged Plexiglas partitions–they are like typos (there’s probably a few in this post) that take you away from the genuine experience of the thing. Then again, there wouldn’t be any partitions if you were really, genuinely experiencing something in the first place, would there?
I live my life in a perpetual state of paranoia that I am seeing people through smudged Plexiglas partitions and this is how they see me, too. I can’t think of a metaphorical streak-free Windex example to ameliorate this problem.
(I guess I’ve been over-due for an existential crisis, huh? Well, I just found it.)
It all comes down to this: How well can we ever really know each other?
It is an odd thing to realize that there is probably not one single person who really knows you. And I don’t just mean when you travel alone or even move to a new city or a new country where the closest recognizable person might be hundreds of miles away, maybe thousands. Maybe across the ocean like when I moved to London and had a panic attack when my cell phone didn’t work after my sister flew back to New York. We can experience that same feeling of loneliness even if we have ten friends all within a five-mile radius. What I mean to say is, how many people in our lives really know all the parts of us? Of course different people serve different purposes in our lives, have certain things in common with us and not others, but is it ever possible to know every side of a human being that is as complex as we all are?
To make matters worse, we are always putting these so-called lenses on. We try to fit or mold people into the image we want them to be, and then get disappointed when we realize we picked the wrong shape. What a silly mistake. It is interesting that shapes are used as one of the most basic learning tools for infants and toddlers as they figure out the world around them, and yet even as adults we can’t seem to master the whole square hole round peg thing.
Furthermore, we seem to always been in some degree of separation from each other. Maybe it’s a cultural disparity, or it’s simply the way we grew up. Maybe it’s our entire worldview, religion, politics, our values, our expectations, or simply our bottom line. Maybe it’s alcohol or drug use (both prescription and non) or some weird chemical supplements that make you feel a little funny. I wonder if we could strip all of these away, if there was some way to make ourselves unused and unbiased and completely sober from all the toxins of our lives thus far, what would we look like to each other? Do we need these smudged Plexiglas partitions as a coping mechanism for the frightening reality of who we really are? Are we scared of what the people we surround ourselves with might actually look like without all of the projections we put on them and without the screens or partitions they build to keep us out?
And here comes the epiphany: I just realized that I am totally self-absorbed to think my boyfriend needs to read everything I’ve ever written and know all my favorite stories immediately if not sooner. Literature isn’t his thing; it’s mine. “But doesn’t he want to know that part of me,” I ask myself. But, back on Earth, does he really need to? Maybe that is just one of the parts of me he’ll never know and that’s okay. Maybe instead I should savor the parts that I know he does know, those things that people in love understand about each other but can’t even articulate. My impulse to put words to who I am is my screen, my Plexiglas partition. I don’t want to smudge our relationship by imposing myself onto the person I love. It is an amazingly simple idea that I am me and he is him. What a pleasure to know that we can be our own dynamic individuals and still be us–together–when we want to be. And there’s no more words needed for that.